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"Don't go looking for trouble," she advised, "but, if it comes, know that I support your decision. You're a good man, Jake. I know you'll do what you believe is right."

At this, she could hear Jake weep softly, though he was trying to hide it from her over the telephone.

Trying to hold back her own tears, Abby asked if he had seen a doctor yet, for she wanted to get as much information from him as she could before their time was up.

"No, I haven't seen a doctor yet," he replied, wiping the tears from his eyes and clearing his voice. "There's been no rape kit, either."

Abby wanted to say that she thought he was suffering retribution for testifying, but quickly checked herself. This call could be monitored and recorded, after all.

"Do you still love me?" he asked softly.

"With all my heart," she replied.

"Sometimes," he sighed wistfully, "I think I just imagined it. What I wouldn't give just to have one of our walks on the beach, right now! Oh, Abby, I miss you so much, it hurts!"

"I miss you, too," sighed the young woman. "Speaking of pain, I still have the bruise you left on my hand. It turned sort of blackish."

"I'm sorry," apologized Jake.

"I never thought I could love anyone as much as I love you," said Abby, in astonishment. "This isn't a sappy, romanticized love, but something much stronger and real than that. God sent you to Three Mile Bay for a reason, and you found me."

"Abby," asked Jake, a little timidly, "if I asked you something, would you do it, and not fight me on it?"

"That depends," she hesitated.

"I'm trying to face facts," he explained. "If I can't get paroled again, then our baby will be in elementary school by the time I get out of here. I have seven years left to my sentence. There's a saying around here that loved ones 'do time on the outside.' Abby, I don't want that to be the way you live. You have yourself to think about, and the baby to raise. Please, don't stop living your life."

"You're not trying to split up with me, are you?" she asked a little nervously.

"No," answered Jake, "I couldn't let go of you right now if I tried. I just don't want you to live the next seven years waiting to breathe again. As long as I know that God is still for me, and that my best friend will be there when I get out, then I can survive anything that I have to."

"I'm not only your friend, Jake," she answered, "I'm also your wife. I know I've skirted around those words in the past, but not anymore. You're my husband and the father of our child. When you've finished your sentence, your family will be waiting for you."

Just then, the phone went dead. They had been so engrossed in their conversation, that they had missed the five minute cutoff warning.

The weeks passed, and Abby had her phone call from Jake, every day. While time didn't speed by, it didn't crawl by, either. Abby had moved into her old bedroom for a few days, while the new gas fireplace that her parents had given as a baby shower gift, was installed. It needed no chimney, and had an impressive venting system that led outside. To John and Terry's curiosity, it was also equipped with a thermostat and a remote control. Even with all the technology, it still looked and acted like a normal fireplace-- albeit, a very nice fireplace. Abby had to admit that it was a very pleasing addition to the living room. Its white exterior sat elegantly against the living room wall, with its arched, black cast iron double doors, and brick lined interior.

Since it was the new toy in the neighborhood, the guys fiddled with the fireplace remote, adjusting and readjusting the height of the flames from all points in the living room, until the whole house was so warm that Abby had to go outside, just to cool off!
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